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The USC Trojans are trying to keep pace with the Utah Utes in the PAC-12 South race while the Arizona State Sun Devils are hoping to snap a two-game losing streak.
USC enters this contest fresh off a disappointing 56-24 loss to Oregon. Meanwhile, Arizona State has lost its last two games to Utah and UCLA to drop them to fourth place in the PAC-12 South, where a win against the Trojans at home could keep them in contention.
This contest kicks off at 3:30 p.m. EST at the Sun Devil Football Stadium. The contest airs on ABC.
The Trojans are hoping to bounce back from Oregon lossUSC's football program is in a state of influx at the moment. There have been rampant rumors of the Trojans possibly making a coaching change at the end of the season, and keep in mind they currently don't have an athletic director.
All of this talk has been distracting, as evidenced by USC's less than stellar showing against Oregon. And in that contest, it shone a light on some of the Trojans' vulnerabilities.
USC's defense surrenders 28 points per game. They allow 426 total yards per game and gain 432 yards. By that measure, they must rely on their offensive to win shootouts. This could be a tall order against an Arizona State defense that doesn't give up as many points (21) or total yards (357.)
That said, Arizona State's weakness defensively is in its secondary where they allow 243 yards per game. This plays into USC's offensive strength, as quarterback Kedon Slovis could have a big game by exploiting these vulnerabilities.
Defensively, the Trojans' secondary will also face a stiff challenge from Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels. Daniels has been prolific this season, passing for 1,902 yards and 11 touchdowns. And he doesn't make many mistakes, as he's thrown only two interceptions.
The biggest opportunity for USC's defense is to apply pressure to Daniels. Arizona State allows two and a half sacks per game. So if the front seven can disrupt the Sun Devils' passing attack, they could stall drives.
Arizona State hoping to snap losing streakThe Sun Devils' lack of success can be attributed to an offense that fails to generate big plays. Arizona State is 94th in the country in total offense and 102nd in points scored per game with 23. Against USC, they must find a way to deliver big plays through the air against a Trojans' secondary that has shown a tendency to give up large gains.
One player to watch is running back Eno Benjamin. Benjamin has 679 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. His performance could loom large as USC struggles to contain the run--they're 91st nationally in rushing yards allowed with 184 per game. If Benjamin can have success on the ground, the Sun Devils can control the tempo of the game.
Speaking of rushing defenses, the Sun Devils' strength on the defensive side of the ball is containing running plays and generating turnovers. Arizona State is 22nd in rushing yards allowed. And the Sun Devils' defense is great at forcing turnovers (they have forced 15 fumbles this season.)
If they replicate this success against USC, they will win.
Trends found by Covers.com Arizona State is:
- 4-1 ATS in last 5 home games against teams with a winning record
- 4-0 ATS in last 4 games following a loss
- 0-7 ATS in last 7 games after having fewer than 100 yards rushing
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The favorite to win this game has been 6-2 in the last eight meetings, according to Covers.com. Expect this trend to continue. Arizona State features the more balanced offensive attack, and they could use this to their advantage by controlling the tempo of the game and keeping USC's offense off the field. Moreover, the Sun Devils' defense is adept at takeaways which could play the deciding factor in the game. Look for Arizona State to control the line of scrimmage and win a close contest.
Prediction: Arizona State -1.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Arizona State is 5-1 in the Under after an ATS loss while USC is 4-1 in the Under in their last five games on the road against foes with a winning record. These two trends continue, as both offenses average a combined 53 points per game. Moreover, look for Arizona State to slow the tempo down by using its ground attack to limit USC possessions. This, coupled with a few turnovers allow the Sun Devils to win a close, lower-scoring game.
Prediction: Under 57